ODNR opens up about golf course plans

By Ivy Potter - [email protected]

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources invited representatives from several different news organizations to an informational meeting Thursday at the location of the former Shawnee State Park Golf Course.

During the meeting project manager Bob Cubow and other ODNR representatives outlined what would be taking place in the upcoming months as the course is transformed to house a campground and additional recreational amenities. Cubow detailed what would be a multiphase project, with expected completion in 2022 for the approximately $8 million project.

“There are a ton of amenities that area proposed, and again this is a concept. So not much is set in stone other than the fact it’s going to be a campground. Some of the amenities that we are looking at would be a complete paved walking and biking path that would go around the campground. That’s one thing we have found in our campgrounds that customers are most excited about. The want to be able to walk. We provide a safe controlled environment where they can walk around and bike, enjoying the view,” said Cubow.

From the conceptual drawing of what is labeled Riverfront RV Campground, there are three distinct branches which lead to different designated areas of the campground. To the right of the existing entrance, plans indicate space for an open recreational field, bicycle playground, and archery range with screening trees lining the perimeter to create privacy from neighboring residential lots.

To the left of the existing entrance, the rendering shows 50 full hookup RV pads, wetlands, fishing ponds with accessible docks and a secondary entrance to the park. Below the camping loop and adjacent to the riverbank, plans indicate an additional 25 full hookup RV pads at the riverfront, a bird watch cove, observation pier, and a paddle sport loop with dedicated building.

The plans also show a major overhaul of the marina with potential sports bar addition and reestablished fuel pumps which will come from separate waterway safety funding, as well as zip line, mini-golf, and splash park options being proposed in the center of the park.

“There will be gasoline and diesel sales at the marina. That has been gone since around 2012. In talking with customers and talking with the folks here at the park there’s a great demand for that, so that’s part of what will be coming back. That’s exciting,” said Cubow.

Cubow stated that much of the proposed recreational activities came from surveys and recreational plans, as well as national trends.

“Zip-lining and activities like that are really popular. I don’t think we’d install and operate that ourselves, but we are open to that,” said Cubow.

On-site, the paddle sport loop has already began construction and has high expectations according to the department. The loop will serve as an area for kayaks, canoes and other small watercraft for beginners, or those who feel more comfortable in a smaller body of water than the river away from boats and other obstacles.

The island of land inside the paddle sport loop will be accessible by bridge and house picnic areas. The loop will also be stocked for fishing parties of all ages.

“We will have youth fishing opportunities,” said Cubow. “There are existing ponds on the property right now, those are going to be enhanced. After this is all laid out and we have the footprint of the campground we will come back in and develop a couple additional youth fishing ponds that will be stocked, and they will be dedicated youth only.”

Cubow stated that plans show a space for an eventual splash park or possible swimming pool area with views to river. Shawnee State Park Naturalist Jenny Richards said she looks forward to the observation piers and bird watch areas proposed for the riverbank which will provide unique views for those who enjoy observing wildlife. Richards also stated that she will hold several instructional classes for children in the new paddle sport loop as well as classes for other proposed amenities.

ONDR stated there will be a space for material relocation between the campground and the neighboring roadway which will act as a divider.

“This will be a dredge material relocation area. Essentially, we are looking for an area so that we can maintain this basin with our in house equipment. We will relocate materials back into this area, eventually it will act as a sound attenuation for the campground and U.S. 52,” said Cubow.

The department stated that although camping is not unique to this location, the design will allow for larger RVs that the existing Shawnee State Campground cannot accommodate. In addition to larger pull-through RV pads that are fully paved, the spaces will be relatively flat and level according to Cubow. Each RV pad will have full water, sewer, electric and Wi-Fi hookups.

“We have no full hookup pads currently at Shawnee,” said Richards.

ODNR assistant director Mindy Bankey stated they are seeing a large growth in this trend of ‘glamping’ and receive numerous calls on a daily basis inquiring where full hookup camping is available for large vehicles.

Richards stated that she believes people will enjoy the new camping location while still staying loyal to the existing campground, stating each offers its own look at area wildlife.

“This is a totally different ecosystem. It’s totally different here than where we are nestled in Shawnee Forrest,” said Richards.

“This is going to be done in several different phases. It’s important to understand the initial design, we have a consultant on board, and they signed contracts last Friday. The architect consultant is engaged now in developing the criteria for this, again this is a conceptual plan. It’s easy to draw up a plan, it’s difficult to put the criteria together that says ‘this is exactly what we want and this is the contractor we need to make this happen’,” said Cubow. “All of the processes that we are going to follow from this point forward are prescribed under Ohio Revised Code, and that’s what our engineering has to follow. There are going to be timelines established, where they have to go out and advertise for these consultants. The consultants are going to put the criteria together for what we’re calling this is going to be a design build project. So the architect will put the criteria together and we will advertise for a design build contractor and all of these things are several weeks involving waiting on various things. Our hopes would be to have a design build contractor on board by spring, and we would be moving forward with design of phase one. Phase one will include the lower loop and establishing a roadway, possibly establishing some of the infrastructure.”

Cubow stated $1.5 million has been established by the ODNR director for initial l project costs with an additional $500,000 used for self-performing activities. A first consultant is currently on board with the project design moving forward for phase two, resulting in both phases in the works concurrently.

Cubow said phase one construction is expected to begin in fall of 2020, with phase two planned to begin in early summer of 2021. Cubow stated the second phase should begin into the next fiscal year and allow those involved with the project to know what kind of funding they are looking at for the next portion of the renovation.

“It should be seamless,” said Cubow.

ODNR stated that while they understand that some people are upset with the loss of Shawnee State Park Golf Course, they believe that upon completion the project will invite more than one demographic into the area to take park in recreation.

“It’s right here on the river which is such a treasure for us, only if you own a piece of land on the river can you really get what you want to get and here this is ours. And so far it’s only been used by one demographic for a very long time and now it’s going to be open for all of us to enjoy. It’s very exciting,” said Richards.

Richards reminded that there is another golf course and stated that Shawnee State Park Golf Course hasn’t had a much visitation in recent years.

“It’s been really dwindling in the number of people coming. We know that we will fill this place with happy places if we change it up,” said Richards.

Bankey wanted to ensure that the public knew that although the golf course will be repurposed, the project is a priority to the ODNR director. “She’s committed to seeing this move forward because of the opportunity it’s going to provide to the community and to the constituents. We’re very excited.”

Cubow stated the area will now house a variety of recreational opportunities, and may even have space for events and festivals.

“The economic opportunities that this stuff provides will be much more beneficial for the community and will draw people in from all over to explore all that Scioto County has to offer,” said Bankey.


By Ivy Potter

[email protected]

Reach: Ivy Potter (74o)353-3101 Extension 1932

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach: Ivy Potter (74o)353-3101 Extension 1932

© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved